Phil Birch, the 63-year-old exploration director of privately owned Impact Oil & Gas, is widely acknowledged as the driving force behind the mighty Venus oil and gas discovery offshore Namibia.

The astounding find — in which Impact has a stake — has helped unlock the Orange basin and establish a new geological play on the abyssal plain.

A product of London’s Imperial College, which has long turned out successful petroleum explorers, Birch kept faith for 11 years in what the rocks were telling him about the block that holds Venus, despite many naysayers.